The seven-piece Shamisen rockers, ROA, had just toured America before landing in London to perform their first set of UK shows, starting with Japanese culture event, HYPER JAPAN. Held at London Olympia on 13—15 July 2018, it was here where we sat down with them before their set and discussed important matters including the choice of perfect BBQ meats, good beers, and heroes! Stay till the end of the article for an amazing photo of the band. Let’s get to it!
Guitarist Shu and Tono (殿)
Shamisen players Moroboshimann and Sakamoto “Mani” Shinjirou (坂本”マニ”真二郎)
We’re happy that you were able to take some time out of your schedule to speak with us today. Please go ahead and introduce yourself!
Masatomo: I’m Masatomo and the vocalist for ROA.
Shu: My name is Shu and I play guitar.
Tono: I’m Tono on guitar.
Miyo-C: I’m Miyo-C, ROA’s bassist.
AKABA: I’m AKABA on drums.
Moroboshimann: I’m Moroboshimann and I play shamisen in ROA.
Mani: I’m Mani and I also play shamisen.
To start off, what is your favorite track from album “RODIAC”?
Tono: The eighth track from RODIAC, Hitsugenius.
Miyo-C: Hitsugenius for me too.
AKABA: It’s so difficult to pick just one track!
AKABA: I wrote all the songs so it’s difficult for me to choose just one track.
“RODIAC” is based on the Chinese zodiac but what animal from the zodiac best suits you?
Masatomo: The years we were born is the culture we were brought up in but that’s not the case for Tono.
Tono: I was born in the year of the rabbit but its the song I like the least from our album RODIAC (is the track rabbit [laughs])
Tell us the funniest story you can remember on tour
Miyo-C: There are too many stories.
AKABA: Even going to far places, we end up leaving Tono behind because he gets too drunk.
Tono: When I drink, I lose my memory, and collapse.
Everyone: Bye-bye! [waving goodbye]
Shu: Even if we sell or take his guitar, he would stay where he is and won’t remember it the next day.
AKABA: There was one show where Tono missed his flight while all of us made it to our next location. Tono had to catch the next bullet train and made the show just in time!
Miyo-C: Sometimes we change the setlist just before the performance and keep it a secret from vocalist Masatomo.
Tono: There was another show where Masatomo asked AKABA to get off the drums and then got someone from the audience to play.
AKABA: This was so I could experience being a fan instead.
How did that go? [laughs]
AKABA: It was amazing!
Masatomo: AKABA is always complaining that he can’t see ROA perform live and he was moaning about it so much that I told him “Fine! Stop playing the drums, get into the audience, and I’ll get another drummer”.
Miyo-C: The shamisen also broke in two at the same show.
Masatomo: So I put the shamisen player into the audience as well.
Miyo-C: We don’t need the shamisen.
Sounds intense! How much did the shamisen cost?
Mani: It cost 500,000 yen ($4500 USD).
Shu: The shamisen that Moroboshimann uses for work and not for performances costs 2,000,000 yen ($17,970 USD).
Before this visit to London, you performed in America. Do you have any stories from when you were there?
Masatomo: We were performing in Los Angeles and the next day we were going to Las Vegas for a trip but we found out that Trump would also be in Las Vegas, meaning that there would be lots of congestion. After our show, we got back to our hotel at 2 am and we had to leave at 4 am which meant we had no time to sleep. So when we were getting ready to pack all of our stuff together and leave, Tono starts a BBQ. At 3 am in the morning!
Miyo-C: Then he had a shower.
Shu: We had a lot of food that we bought from the supermarket and Tono’s idea was, instead of throwing it away, we should just cook it.
Now that your here, could you tell us in one word, what do you think about England?
Tono: The best.
Masatomo: Beautiful. [Everyone nods in agreement]
What country do you wish to play in most apart from England?
Everyone: Of course, England is number one [laughs].
Everyone: Greenland?! [laughs]
AKABA: Spain for me too.
Mani: There’s nothing else outside of England.
Moroboshimann: Me too.
Why only England?
Moroboshimann: Because I’ve always loved British music.
In May, ROA appeared in a meat festival in Tokyo. So we wanted to know, what’s your favorite type of meat?
Tono: Me too, lamb.
We previously spoke about Tomo cooking food from the supermarket but are any of you good at BBQ?
Shu: Yes, we’re good!
All of you?! [laughs]
Tono: Yeah! We BBQ every day!
Wow! What’s your favorite thing to have with a BBQ?
Masatomo: As long as it’s meat, it doesn’t matter.
Shu: If we’re drinking beer, anything is fine.
That’s our next question actually! What’s your favorite beer?
Tono: Me too, Sapporo.
Shu: Lowenbrau, a German beer.
Masatomo: Mani and Moroboshimann don’t drink.
Who would you consider your hero?
Masatomo: Luffy from One Piece. The Turtles are also good (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Everyone: Turtles?! [laughing].
Mani: Michael Jackson.
Shu: Me. [everyone laughs]
If you could perform with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
Tono: Iron Maiden.
Mani: Boris, Metallica.
AKABA: Foo Fighters.
Masatomo: For me, instead of performing with someone famous, I want to perform with as many people as possible or people who are at the same level as me, such as the young upcoming bands from around the world.
Discussing all these musicians. Do you have a favorite band at the moment? A song you’re listening to or recently picked up?
Masatomo: I like listening to bands who really focus on the lyrics.
Mani: Def Leppard.
AKABA: Jokes aside, because I write the lyrics, I hear ROA’s music the most, so for me it’s ROA.
Tono: Second World. This is also the band I used to play in. I still listen to their new releases even now.
What is your ultimate favorite TV show?
Shu: Breaking Bad.
Mani: Adventure Time.
Tono: IBO (Iron-Blooded Orphans—part of the Gundam anime series).
Miyo-C: There’s a TV show that introduces Japan to westerners telling them why they should go to Japan. I watch this TV show a lot.
There are seven colors in the rainbow and seven members in ROA – which color would best describe each of you? Similar to if you were a power ranger.
Masatomo: Me too, violet.
Since the Olympics is coming up, what is the number one thing a visitor should see when they visit Japan? What would you recommend?
Shu: They should see ROA. [Everyone laughs and agrees]
If you had to compete in the Olympics, which game would you participate in?
Miyo-C: Hammer throw.
We would like to thank ROA and the management team for organizing this interview. If you liked what you see, make sure you check out their music and support the musicians performing aboard.